Western Animation: Censored Eleven
In the history of media, there are works that may not seem overtly controversial at the time of their creation, but later come to be regarded as such as time passes and perceptions of morals, beliefs, and societial issues change. Animation is no different, and there is no better example of this within the medium than the Censored Eleven.The "Censored Eleven" are a collection of eleven different animated shorts — ten released under the Merrie Melodies label, one released under the Looney Tunes label — created between the years of 1931 and 1944. The full list is as follows:
- Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land — 1931, directed by Rudolf Ising
- Sunday Go to Meetin' Time — 1936, directed by Friz Freleng — Watch
- Clean Pastures — 1937, directed by Friz Freleng. It is interesting to note that this cartoon nearly got banned when it was released in the late 1930s, not for race, but for religious reasons (the Hays Office thought people at the time would be offended that blacks are depicted as heavenly creatures and even The Devil wants to get into Heaven) and for glamorizing vices (gambling, sex [the showgirls dancing to "Sweet Georgia Brown"], and booze). Watch
- Uncle Tom's Bungalow — 1937, directed by Tex Avery
- Jungle Jitters — 1938, directed by Friz Freleng — Watch
- The Isle of Pingo Pongo — 1938, directed by Tex Avery
- All This And Rabbit Stew — 1941, directed by Tex Avery — Watch — The only Bugs Bunny cartoon to be put on this list. This cartoon has also been put on the 12 Banned Bugs Bunny cartoons list and has fallen into Public Domain.
- Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs — 1943, directed by Bob Clampett. Despite being banned for its ethnic stereotyping, this short is one of The 50 Greatest Cartoons, and one of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Tin Pan Alley Cats — 1943, directed by Bob Clampett. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Angel Puss — 1944, directed by Chuck Jones (the only short released under the Looney Tunes label and the only Chuck Jones-directed Censored Eleven short)
- Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears — 1944, directed by Friz Freleng
Tropes associated with the Censored Eleven (in general) include:
- Blackface: Many jokes poke fun at black people, depicting them with enormous frog like lips, lazy or dimwitted behaviour and jive talk. Scenes of them eating water melons, stealing chickens, being scared of ghosts, obsessed with throwing dice,... are also rampant. Expect some imagery set in the days of slavery to turn up or jokes where their skin color turns out to be just black paint. Though a lot if it thrives on stereotypes that were typical of the time it must be said that this imagery was seen in many live-action films of that time period, including works with actual Afro-American actors and musicians like Louis Armstrong, Stepin Fetchit, Hattie McDaniel, Josephine Baker,... So, in some cases these jokes were meant as innocent parodies that modern audiences, unaware of the stuff referenced, will find offensive.
- The Golden Age of Animation: All eleven of the shorts were produced during this era.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: While the Eleven have never had an official home video release, they have showed up on bootleg home video releases, and all eleven shorts can be found on Internet video sites (as the links above can attest to). The first official release of the Eleven was said to happen in 2011, though that release has not yet happened.
- Old Shame: The existence of the list is Warner Bros. way of pretending these shorts never existed.
- Overshadowed by Controversy: To the point that more has been written about the supposed racism in these cartoons than their artistic quality.
- Public Domain Animation: Several of the shorts on the list are in the Public Domain.